Messing about on the River

A British boating holiday offers many great ways to enjoy UK canals, while experiencing the relaxing benefits of a canal boat, clipper, or larger cruise with full facilities and opportunities for hiring crews. British boating holidays are ideal for families, those with pets, and couples for romantic trips, and can take advantage of the British canal network. It’s worth, then, looking at how you can enjoy messing about on the river through safe, relaxing, but active river holidays, from what you can expect for trips and facilities, through to things to do, and good locations to explore.

Old Wooden Boats England

Kinds of Boating Holiday and Benefits

There are 3,000 canals in Britain, which provide the best options for inland river boating holidays, and safer options than coastal and sea based travels. These networks extend across England, Scotland, and Wales, and often link up with coastal sea ports, while avoiding heavier shipping and freight lanes. The most typical options for these holidays include staying on a canal boat, taking a motor boat cruise, or enjoying larger clippers and other piloted boats for short rides and evenings out on the water.

Many holidaymakers make use of canal boats that have extensive facilities, and are suitable for sleeping, cooking, and washing in, while being accessible to pets and small children. Privately charted barges also offer the benefit of being able to organise a party on the water, while self drive cruisers let you take control, albeit without having to worry about building up too much speed. The benefits are consequently extensive, from spending time with your family and friends in a unique setting, to taking on the challenge of navigating and piloting a boat for a few weeks or longer.


As previously noted, most canal boats and cruisers come with microwaves, showers, toilets, extendable canopies, and safety options like life jackets. Others provide entertainment through DVD players, while fixed berth, and larger canal boats, are typically designed for long term sleeping and time spent on the river.

lock and boat

Things to Do on a Boating Holiday

There are many things to do on a boating holiday. As well as enjoying rivers and views, it’s also possible to step off and explore local towns, wildlife, and scenery. When the weather is calm, you can also fish off the side of a boat, or even engage in some swimming and watersports. Alternatively, you can just focus on relaxation, from gentle sightseeing to taking photographs, and the knowledge that you can sail down rivers and canals without being disturbed.



Britain is one of the best places to have a boating holiday, a result of the canal network’s popularity, and its holdover features from the Industrial Revolution. Particularly popular routes include the Norfolk Broads, the Brook Line in Worcestershire, Cornwall, the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, and the New Junction Canal. You can also enjoy areas like the Andover Canal, rivers in Derby, Exeter, and near to London, as well as rides in Northern Ireland via the Lagan Canal and Newry. Scotland offers the sights of the Monkland Canal and the Union Canal, while Wales is particularly recommended for its Aberdare and Montgomery boating lanes.
About the author
Rob James is seasoned traveler who often uses holiday cottages uk based company Cottages Direct. Rob enjoys travelling with his wife and four daughters, and can be found blogging about many places around the UK and abroad.  His favourite quote is “If you rest, you rust.” – Helen Hayes